It’s Shark Week: time to celebrate all things toothy, finned and cormised. The Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week begins July 24th (you can bite into all the shark goodness with our shark goodness Shark week streaming guide). In honor of these incredible creatures, we’ve compiled a list of shark superlatives. Which of these cartilage wonders is the biggest, the fastest, the weirdest? We have your answers right here.
The Biggest Shark
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The largest shark alive today is a gentle giant: the whale shark. These filter feeders typically grow to about 40 feet (12.1 meters) in length and weigh about 11 tons (9,979 kilograms). World Wildlife Fund. And they do it on a plankton diet.
whale sharks (Rhincodon type) are found worldwide in tropical and temperate waters. They give birth to live young, but scientists know almost nothing about their mating rituals or birthing behavior (although in 2018 researchers did ultrasound scans of female whale sharks near the Galapagos Islands, reported the Guardian). Scientists also don’t know why these sharks sometimes make incredible dives to depths of 1,800 m (6,000 ft), a behavior that scientists have only begun to track in the last decade.
The smallest shark
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At the other end of the size spectrum sits the pygmy lanternshark (Etmopterus perryi). This tiny deep-sea dweller is only about 20 centimeters long. It is rarely observed, as it is said to swim at depths between 928 and 1,440 feet (283 and 439 m) below the sea surface Smithsonian Institution . So far, the shark has only been sighted in the waters off Colombia and Venezuela.
The pygmy lanternshark has an abdomen lined with photophores — light-emitting organs that help the shark remain camouflaged. In shallower water, the soft glow blends with the sunlight falling off the ocean’s surface, while the lights help attract prey as the shark trolls deeper waters, according to the Smithsonian.
Lantern sharks are a strange group. A relative of the dwarf lanternshark, the snake shark (Trigonognathus kabeyai), not only has a glowing stomach, but also sports toothy, goblin-like jaws.
The fastest shark
The Shortfin Mako Shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) is the fastest known shark. This streamlined shark can swim at 31 mph (50 km/h) and accelerate for short bursts of up to 46 mph (74 km/h), according to the researchers Smithsonian. Makos are apex predators that use their speed to hunt bony fish. They are also skilled jumpers, regularly leaping at least 10 feet (3 m) out of the water. The sharks are sometimes caught by deep sea anglers and can jump into fishing boats (opens in new tab) in an attempt to break free from anglers’ hooks.
Makos can grow up to 4 m in length and are found in temperate and tropical oceans around the world. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the Mako as endangeredpartly due to overfishing.
The longest lived shark
The longest-lived shark is also the record-holder for the longest-lived vertebrates. Greenland Sharks They have long been known to have extreme longevity, but research dated to 2016 the layers in the sharks’ eye lenses found that the sharks were between 272 and 512 years old. Despite the uncertainty in the estimate, even the lower number fetches the shark’s trophy for longevity among backbone species.
Greenland sharks are the only sharks that can survive the cold of the Arctic Ocean year-round National Ocean Service. They have an extremely slow metabolism and only grow about an inch a year—but if you live long enough, all those inches add up. During their long lives, these sharks can grow to be 20 feet long from nose to tail.
The furthest migratory shark
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The whale shark is a high flyer. Not only does it hold the record for the largest shark, this peaceful creature also takes home the trophy for the longest migration. In 2018, researchers reported in the journal Records of marine biodiversity that they had tagged a female whale shark in Panama. Eight hundred and forty-one days later, she surfaced near the Mariana Trench, a journey of 12,515.7 miles (20,142 kilometers).
It was the longest recorded whale shark voyage ever, but the study’s authors argued that other tracking data suggests long voyages are not uncommon for whale sharks. For example, the researchers wrote that whale sharks near the Galapagos Islands were covered 67 km (41.6 miles) a day, and other whale sharks with tags were tracked for thousands of kilometers.
The deepest living shark
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Sharks are found from the sea surface to the deep sea. The least alive shark discovered so far is the Portuguese dogfish (Centroscymnus coelolepis), a relatively small shark, growing to about 3 feet (0.94 m) in length. These sharks are benthic, meaning they live on the sea floor, and they’ve been found to depths of 3,675 m (12,057 ft), according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Typically black or dark brown, Portuguese dogfish have around 98 teeth, which these deep-sea hunters use to catch fish and cephalopods.
The most bizarre shark
It should be clear by now that sharks are a fairly diverse group. And, as in every family, below their numbers They count some real oddballs. There is the “pigfish” or the edgy rough shark (Oxynotus centrina) that snorts like a pig when pulled out of the water. There is the pocket shark (Mollisquama mississippiensis), which is shaped like a tiny sperm whale. There are wobbegong sharks (family Orectolobidae), whose mottled camouflage and frayed sensory organs make them look like shaggy carpets.
But for our money, the weirdest shark in the sea has to be the frilled shark. These elusive living fossils have changed little in 80 million years. They have long, eel-like bodies that can grow to 6 feet (1.8 m) in length, and they hit the deep sea with their 300 sharp teeth before the dinosaurs went extinct. Because they live so low, frilled sharks are rarely seen, according to the marine protection. Given their backward rows of teeth and ominous club-like heads, that might be a good thing.
Originally published on Live Science.
Stupendous sharks: The biggest, smallest and strangest sharks in the world Source link Stupendous sharks: The biggest, smallest and strangest sharks in the world